The term “gaslighting” comes from a great old movie starring Ingrid Bergman.
Here is a bit of internet psychology defining gaslighting – take it for what it’s worth and study it out more if it applies to you.
Have you ever felt like you were going crazy because someone — maybe it’s your husband — keeps telling you that you’re crazy? “Are you crazy?” you hear over and over. “You are really paranoid. You need to get your head checked!” Hear that enough times and you probably believe it. But are you really crazy or are you being gaslighted?
1. You’re told something is normal that you can feel deep in your bones is not.
2. You’re told you are paranoid, too sensitive, or stressed out.
3. You start to exhibit “crazy” behavior. You find yourself doing things that you couldn’t imagine doing before you were with your spouse.
4. You mistrust your perceptions. You’re constantly being told that what you’re seeing, hearing, feeling isn’t what you’re seeing, hearing, feeling.
5. You begin to accept his perceptions, even though they don’t seem true.
6. You start to feel like your memory is terrible.
7. You start to feel like your spouse has a terrible memory.
8. You start lying. In order to avoid all of the mental abuse you’ll know you’ll get if you say a, b, or c, you start to lie.
9. You begin to think you’re crazy.
10. Depression. The end stage of being gaslighted is that you feel depressed, anxious, unsure, and hopeless.
Every couple has miscommunications, and everyone hears or sees things sometimes that they misconstrue, but if you are frequently experiencing the above symptoms, you are likely being gaslighted.
Gaslighting can be particularly destructive in an LDS marriage because we are likely to feel pressured to accept our husband’s opinion, as head of the family. This is clearly unrighteous dominion, if we recognize the gaslighting. It can be nearly impossible to untangle yourself from this manipulation well enough to recognize it when it has been going on for a long time. I was able to see that my previous spouse was gaslighting me only after being educated about it and then watched him do it in marriage counseling. The therapist would write down phrases he said, then read them back later when he contradicted himself. She would ask him questions and he’d wander away from addressing the issue, she would redirect him, often several times. Then he would say that he didn’t understand what she was asking, he tried to gaslight her! At that point she would see that no progress was going to be made in that area and we’d move on to a different subject.
When I realized that I had been a long term victim of gaslighting it was devastating and a great relief! It was more evidence that my marriage was not what I thought it was, what I hoped it to be. It was another realization of the toxic person I was sealed to, sharing my life with, sleeping next to every night. On the other hand, I wasn’t crazy! My mind was not failing me or my reason falling apart! It also showed me that if a therapist and I together couldn’t get the truth out of my husband, the hours long discussions we were having weren’t going to result in anything but more confusion.
There are days that the residual effects of the gaslighting are felt and I think of how easy it would be for me to just go back to him and let him”fix” everything, but the price was always so very high. I have to believe in myself, that God has given me like my patriarchal blessing states “a clear mind and intellect” and that I’m every bit as smart and capable as he is, I’m not helpless or dumb as it benefited him to have me believe.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Things will work out. We will be blessed and free if we shake off the fog of the past and put on the full armor of God and yoke to him instead of being told we are crazy!